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Apple Warranty Practices Criticized by European Consumer Groups

Apple Inc.’s advertising of product warranty practices was criticized by a group of European consumer organizations ahead of an Italian case over the issue.

Apple products say they come with a one-year warranty when European Union law requires manufacturers cover goods for two years, consumer groups in 11 countries, including Italy and Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The groups said they sent letters to national regulators seeking an immediate halt to Apple’s practices on the guarantees.

Apple will challenge a 900,000-euro ($1.18 million) fine from the Italian competition regulator at a March 21 hearing. The regulator in December said Apple breached EU legislation for unfair commercial practices and misled consumers by “prominently advertising” that its products have a one-year manufacturer warranty, and through the sale of its “AppleCare Protection Plan” warranty extension.

“Consumers should not be misled and confused as to fundamental EU consumer rights because a company wants to sell their commercial warranty services,” Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organization, said in the statement. Goyens, who said consumers in the EU are entitled to a guarantee of at least two years, added the case is “even more important” as it concerns a market leader, whose practices have a “wide impact.”

Alan Hely, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple in London, didn’t have an immediate comment.

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